Assigning copyright

Lawrence E. Rosen lrosen at
Thu Feb 22 16:51:22 UTC 2001

Once again, I need to suggest that it is not appropriate to ask for (or
give) specific legal advice on an OSI public discussion list.  No attorney
worth the paper on which his license is printed will give a specific answer
to a specific question in such a forum.  And any answer you get from
non-lawyers will not be worth relying on.  The process of transferring a
copyright is not rocket science by any means.  Perhaps you should refer to
the website of the US Copyright Office (  As
to whether it was "legal" to ask for the assignment of a copyright to you,
please consult your own personal attorney.  As to the "ethical" issues (or,
indeed, the "practical" issues of copyright assignment), that IS an
appropriate topic for the license-discuss list.  If you reformulate your
query along those lines, I'm sure you'll get lots of responses.  I intend to
respond separately to the general issue of copyright ownership in an open
source world in a later posting, as time permits.  /Larry Rosen

   > -----Original Message-----
   > From: David Johnson [mailto:david at]
   > Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2001 10:12 PM
   > To: license-discuss at
   > Subject: Assigning copyright
   > Since I can't locate the archives anywhere, could someone
   > either point me to
   > them or offer a recap of a prior discussion?
   > Not too long ago we were discussiing assigning copyrights to a
   > project. This
   > subject has since entered my reality and bit me on the rump
   > :-) I'm not sure
   > if that discussion covered my questions, so I'll sum them up.
   > I now have in my possession a contributed piece of code with
   > an emailed
   > agreement to assign the copyright to me (since there is no umbrella
   > organization to assign it to). The pragmatic part of me says
   > that this is the
   > legally sensible thing to do, while the idealistic side says
   > that it was
   > incredibly presumptious even to ask. Was this the
   > legal/ethical thing to do?
   > And now that it's done, how does it actually get implemented?
   > Do I refer to
   > the contributor/author as a contributor or an author? yada yada yada
   > Thanks,
   > --
   > David Johnson
   > ___________________

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